Q and A with Ernest Nino-Murcia

Without further ado!:

Q: You write a food blog?! What is the URL? Curious: Did they advise you not to give the URL before your interview?
Ernest: The URL for my blog is http://iwastoldtherewouldbefood.blogspot.com/  
The truth is it’d been dormant through most of the Jeopardy! process but talking about it on national TV was just the jolt I needed to dust it off a bit.  
     The issue of mentioning the URL never came up but I do THINK “plugs” are generally frowned upon in that situation. For example, they usually say what people do but not who they work for or the name of their business. But that’s not anything I have a specific recollection of being told.

Q: I doubt I’m the only one who liked your “Brown Sugar” response. I bet many of us do that kind of thing at home! 🙂
Ernest: I’m glad you enjoyed my wobbly but energetic rendition of “Brown Sugar.”  The only other color song I would’ve done that for is maybe “Purple Rain.”  Believe it or not I had not planned to inflict my terrible singing voice on the unsuspecting public; and if I’d thought about it any longer than the split second I had, I most certainly would not have done it.  I think I was just pumped to have caught up after my slow start and needed something to keep my energy up in a hard-fought game.
Q: Can you talk about your Final Jeopardy response and wager on your second day?
Ernest: The thought of standing pat never crossed my mind and I didn’t even realize until much later that it would have won me the game.  Because Sarah got on such a roll with “Painters and Paintings”, I assumed she’d get the Final Jeopardy question on “the arts.” So the plan was to go (almost) all-in and catch her if she bet conservatively (I now wonder if her large wager was in anticipation of this).  I did not devote any serious time to wagering strategy in my preparation for the show- unwise, perhaps, but it is what it is.  Honestly, though, I think I would’ve done it the same even if I’d seriously weighed the options, for the reasons outlined above and because even though I was still very much in the game, Sarah’s hot streak made me feel I needed to be aggressive to catch up.  When the question came, the needle scratched off the record, so to speak.  I wrote down whatever I could think of that would’ve been banned in pre-revolution Russia and that was that.  Glad Alex got a bit of a chuckle out of it.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Ernest: Though I would have obviously liked for it to go on a little longer, I still feel so honored and fortunate to have made it ON Jeopardy!, much less WON a game.
     There’s a lot you can study before being on Jeopardy! but when you actually get under the lights you have to play the game well and have some luck.  Many contestants much smarter than I have come and gone in a flash because they happened to land in the path of a juggernaut like Ken Jennings or couldn’t figure out the buzzer (or rather, “signaling device,” as they prefer to say in Jeopardyland). I was lucky to get a few breaks and made the most of them in my first game. I am pretty sure I would not have won (because of the Final Jeopardy questions) had I been chosen for either of the two shows before mine and was dead lucky my first game to get away with a pretty bad answer to a Final Jeopardy question that basically called for an educated guess. On my second and final show some of the breaks went the other way: I missed a few I wish I could have back (my vegan girlfriend might say missing “prime rib” is a sign I should give up meat but I am undeterred!).  I got two questions about Iowa but was paired with a native Iowan (Chris, though he now lives in Ky.) I’m just glad I didn’t miss “John Deere” – I think you could actually see me go “phew!” after that one.  I also don’t think I’d be able to show my face at the courthouse again if I’d missed “co-defendant.”

     In the end, all I can do is be thankful for the opportunity to make it that far and congratulate Sarah and Chris on a great game.  All of the other contestants, Alex, and the Jeopardy! staff were just awesome and made it an amazing experience.
     Fun small-world fact:  A friend from college wrote me to say that he realized Sarah is married to one of his sister’s best friends from high school.
Thanks, Ernest. Well done all the way around.